Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet subjects of her Hold Still lockdown photography project

The Duchess of Cambridge gave a community volunteer a “massive shock” when she called him out of the blue to reveal his portrait had been selected as a finalist in her Hold Still lockdown photography project, he has revealed.

Sami Massalami Mohammed Elmassalami Ayad, a volunteer at a community Food Hub in Hackney, north London, met both the Duchess and the Duke of Cambridge at Waterloo station on Tuesday as they viewed several billboards showcasing the final 100 images chosen from more than 31,000 entries.

He said: “It was such a joy to meet the Duke and Duchess and I can’t believe my picture made it to the final 100.

“I didn’t even know it was being submitted by my colleague at the food hub so it came as a massive shock when I got a call from the National Portrait Gallery saying the Duchess wanted to speak to me.

“She called me a few weeks ago and we had such a lovely conversation. She told me how she wanted to build a snapshot of how Britain was coping in the pandemic, but to show all sides of what people have gone through and are still going through.”

When he told the Duke that his colleague had submitted the picture of him wearing his plastic apron and gloves without his knowledge, he laughed loudly and said: “Oh that’s great, you didn’t know at all? Love it. That’s brilliant.”

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